Majority of Americans Give President Obama Negative Ratings on His Economic Job Performance

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While a majority of Americans may give President Obama’s overall job performance high marks (The Harris Poll®, March 23, 2009), the same is not the case for his performance on the economy. A majority of Americans (53%) give his job negative marks while 47% give it positive ratings. But there is still a sense of confidence in the Obama Administration as 57% of Americans say they are confident that the White House and the Administration will produce policies to help fix the economic crisis while 43% are not confident.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,355 U.S. adults surveyed online between March 9 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive®.

Other interesting results of this survey include:

  • Younger Americans are still the ones giving President Obama the highest marks, even on the economy. Over half (54%) of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-32) give the president’s job on the economy positive marks compared to 47% of Gen Xers (aged 33-44), 45% of Baby Boomers (aged 45-63) and 44% of Matures (aged 64 and older); and,
  • Partisanship has definitely not gone away as 86% of Democrats have confidence that the Obama Administration and the White House can create policies to help fix the economic crisis while three-quarters (75%) of Republicans say they are not confident. Independents are more closely divided with 53% having confidence and 47% saying they are not confident.

Trust in Politicians to do What is Right for the American Economy

When it comes to doing what is right for the American economy, the American public has different levels of trust for the political players involved. Two-thirds (66%) say they trust President Obama to do what is right with one-third (34%) saying they have a great deal of trust in him. Almost three in five (59%) Americans trust the President’s economic advisors. Majorities, however, do not trust the players in Congress. Just over half of Americans (51%) say they do not trust Democrats in Congress while 59% say they do not trust Republicans in Congress to do what is right for the American economy.

Household’s Financial Situation in Six Months

While the President and his economic advisors are trying to do a lot to bolster Americans’ confidence in their economic future, it may not be working quite yet. Specifically:

  • In January, one in five Americans (20%) said, when thinking about their household’s current financial situation, they expect things to be better in the next six months while one-third (32%) said they expected it to be worse;
  • Two months later and not much has changed as over one-third of Americans (35%) say they expect things to be worse for their household’s financial situation six months from now and 20% say it will be better; almost half (46%) say things will be the same; and,
  • There are definitely regional differences on where the financial situation will be six months from now. Three in ten Easterners (29%) say they expect their household’s financial situation to be better six months from now compared to just 15% of Midwesterners and 18% of both Southerners and Westerners.

So What?

So far the Obama administration has spent much of its political capital on policies and efforts to both fix the economy and reassure the American public that they are doing everything in their power to make this right. But they have also tempered the discussion by warning that this was going to be a long-haul and wouldn’t be fixed overnight. While Americans’ are giving President Obama negative ratings on the economy, they do still have confidence and trust that he is doing what is right for the American economy. Yet, only one in five expect things to be better six months from now for their household. That is the number that the Obama administration needs to move, because as it does start to increase, it will show that Americans are thinking more positively about the future. Right now, they aren’t there yet.


The Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States March 9 and 16, 2008, among 2,355 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Full data tables and methodology are available at www.harrisinteractive.com.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Harris Interactive Inc. 3/09